2001 June 9: A Cross-Country Flight from Sacramento PA to Malvern PA

On June 9, 2001, Bill Buffam (that's me, your fearless narrator) flew his hang glider from Sacramento PA to Malvern PA, a straight line distance of 71.8 miles. On this flight I broke all of my personal records, but only half my downtubes. My glider is a Wills Wing Ultra Sport 166. This is the mini Web site documenting the adventure. I hope you enjoy reading it, but truthfully my main motivation for creating the site is for my own enjoyment, so I can recall every detail and savor the experience into my old age (which some would argue has already arrived!).

Incredibly, only two pilots flew from the Sac that day—me and my partner Lenko. Even the locals, Joe and Karen Gorrie, passed up the day.

This is where it all began—the launch at the Sac. Ironically, the only reason for taking this shot was to keep the camera alive. It's a point-and-shoot job that turns itself off after 20 minutes of inactivity. Of course Murphy's Law kicked in, turned the camera off, and this is the only shot I got of the flight. Notice the trusty van and trailer in the background, which hauled the glider back up the hill after getting flushed on the first attempt. (click to enlarge)

This is a shot, from a later flight from the Sac, of the Mahantango Mountain. The Sac launch is almost directly under where I'm flying (seen here heading North) in this shot. (click to enlarge)

The Story. It's a long one, so I made it a PDF file rather than an HTML. That way you can print it and take it to your favorite reading place. It may be a PDF, but it still has Web links in it. They work just like links in an HTML file.

Barograph. This is the barograph captured by my trusty Brauniger IQ Competition GPS flight computer. (I know it's confusing, but the "GPS" in the instrument's name implies only that it's capable of receiving and applying a signal from a GPS, not that it has a GPS function built in.). The barograph also has reference points, which correspond to those in the maps. The maps don't contain every reference point, for the very good reason that I didn't know precisely where I was at every barograph reference point. The flight computer is colloquially referred to as a "vario," which is short for "variometer," which is a device for measuring lift or sink. Today's instruments do much, much more than that, but the label "vario" has stuck.

Maps. There are three maps that cover the journey. My approximate route, which was guided by my Garmin 12 Map GPS, is traced with a bold red line. There are reference points along the way that I refer to in the story.

Landing field. This is a map and aerial photograph from MapQuest. Here is the unadorned shot of the general area; here is a marked up shot to show the field I landed in (upper left) and the field I was aiming for (lower right).

Conversation with the landowner. This is a 3-minute audio clip of my conversation with the landowner just after I landed. You may well wonder why in the world I would go to the trouble of recording this conversation, and why on earth I'd haul a tape recorder around in my harness. Well, you'll just have to read the story to get the answers to those questions.

Newspaper article. All it took was a little shameless self-promotion to get this story into the wuffo press—the Daily Local News of West Chester, PA. The article was given most of the front page of the Sunday July 8 edition, and included a color picture and (inaccurate) map. The map didn't make it to the online edition, but the picture and story are both all there.

Glossary for wuffos. We use jargon just like any other community. This glossary attempts to explain terms that will not be familiar to wuffos. (Yes, "wuffo" is in the glossary.)

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